In the early part of November, anime publisher Funimation Entertainment released Overlord on Blu-ray and DVD, so we decided to check out this fantasy adventure series with a very familiar story, based on the light novel series written by Kugane Maruyama and illustrated by so-bin.
Overlord follows Momonga, a veteran player of Yggdrasil, an immersive MMORPG that has reached the end of its run. On the game’s final night, Momonga pays his respects to the guild hall, The Great Tomb of Nazarick, that he and his companions, the Ainz Ooal Gown, built through the twelve years of the game’s lifespan. As the servers shut down for good, and the screen goes dark, Momonga sits with the keep’s NPCs gathered around him, but he is in for a surprise, when it appears that the game doesn’t shut down, and all the NPCs begin speaking, and acting, as if they are alive. All the NPCs are fiercely loyal to Momonga, especially Albedo (whom he made a slight adjustment to just before the incident, making her someone who is in love with him), calling him the true leader of the guild, as he was the only one who never abandoned them, even as the game came to an end.
Unable to log out, and unsure of what is happening, Momonga learns that The Great Tomb of Nazarick is no longer surrounded by swampland. It appears that he, along with all the now alive keep’s residents, have been transported to another world. As Momonga heads out into this new world, in his avatar’s skeletal form, he learns that he is now one of this new world’s most powerful beings, but he also suspects that other players could have been transported, just as he was. So, he embarks on a journey, under the name Ainz Ooal Gown, to gain recognition, hoping that anyone who knew of him, will seek him out.
Momonga spends much of his time in these episodes, getting a feel for his powers, as well as exploring the land and meeting its people. At times, he disguises himself as an adventurer, completing missions and earing money for the Adventurer’s Guild, as a swordsman. In other instances, he goes out in his true form, bringing terror to his enemies, and unleashing much of his power in some impressive battles.
With so many “hero transported to another world” series already available, Overlord’s story sounds exactly like what you would expect from all the others. The main difference, is that this hero, is an inhuman Grotesque, that appears like a skeleton. Along with his appearance, Momonga also picks up many of the traits from his playable class, which gives him a sort of numbness when it comes to humans. This makes for some interesting interactions with the world around him, and the enemies he faces. Often, a strange power keeps his feelings in check, but occasionally, he shows just how brutal he can be. This is especially true in one of his “boss fights,” where he outclasses his opponent, and makes her suffer a miniature version of one of Alucard’s kills in Hellsing Ultimate.
Aside from the not-so-original story concept, what hurts Overlord a bit, is that there isn’t a central villain revealed. Momonga does battle with several enemies, but none truly challenge him, and the only one that does, isn’t exactly a villain either.
Visually, Overlord is an impressive looking anime, with intimidating and powerful characters, including Momonga, to be found everywhere. The animation is smooth, and the action sequences are all handled very well. It does use CGI at times, which I’m not much of a fan of, but it doesn’t hurt the experience. The collection includes both the Blu-ray and DVD versions of the anime, and I really didn’t see much difference in quality.
The voice casts in both the English and Japanese versions do nice jobs in matching up with their characters. I found myself enjoying both equally, with no real favorite between the two. As far as the subtitles go, they remain on screen for a good amount of time, and the translations have good flow, while the text is easy to read.
The limited-edition version of the anime, includes two Blu-ray cases, separating the Blu-ray and DVD versions, with space for each disc to be stored safely. The two cases go into a chipart box, that features a beautifully done image of a seated Albedo, with Momonga standing behind her. Also, included with the limited edition, are eleven premium art cards. Included as on-disc extras, are trailers for other Funimation releases, previews and TV spots for Overlord, the clean opening and closing, episode two, nine, and thirteen commentary, and the Play Play Pleiades shorts, which provide a little more comedy.
Overlord certainly isn’t going to be the most original anime that you watch, but for what it is, it is still an enjoyable series. It really needed a great threat to tie everything together, but in a way, Momonga and his companions are the biggest threat for the time being. It would have been nice to see them challenged a bit more though. The series did do a good job of showing different sides to its lead however, at times he comes off a bit dorky, others heroic, and then he can take a turn for the vicious, all of which make for entertaining viewing.
If you’re interested in something a little pervier than LogHorizon, or a less pervy than No Game, No Life, then you should check out Overlord. The Overlord manga and light novels, are both published in North America by Yen Press.
Publisher: FUNimation Entertainment
Runtime: 325 minutes
Number of Episodes: 13
Languages: English and Japanese audio, English subtitles
Age Rating: TV-MA
Release Date: Nov. 8, 2016
(A review copy of the Overlord limited edition was provided by Funimation Entertainment.)